Gentry says changes coming to Suns starting lineup

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The fact that the Suns lost to the Miami Heat on Saturday, even with Dwyane Wade out due to injury and LeBron James playing through illness, wasn’t by itself cause for concern. But the way the team started, flat once again and failing to score in the game’s first 4:14 on the way to a 9-0 deficit, has head coach Alvin Gentry thinking about making some changes.

Phoenix has been a scrappy team that has fought its way back from large deficits the entire season, but it’s obviously difficult to win games when you have to expend so much energy digging yourself out of double-digit holes.

After seeing his team fall behind early and often in just about every one of the Suns’ first 11 games, Gentry says he’ll be making some lineup changes to try to stop that trend.

From SBNation Arizona:

“We got to stop having the starts we’re having and the only way we can deal with that is that we are going to have to change the line-ups,” Gentry said. “So the next game we play it won’t be the same line-up that you’ve seen. I haven’t decided exactly what I am going to do there, but we’ll do something. We’ll do something.”

As for what that something will be, Gentry has a couple of options.

Luis Scola has been inconsistent defensively, and while his offense has come and gone, his spacing on that end of the floor has hindered the team’s effort there rather than helped it.  Jermaine O’Neal might be an option, as would Markieff Morris, who has started to play better recently but has also been inconsistent himself.

A more likely switch could involve shooting guard Jared Dudley, who has yet to find his role with the starters this season with the offense being run through Michael Beasley. Dudley has been solid in the games where the shot attempts were there, so maybe playing with the second unit and being featured a bit more might help him contribute more consistently.

Shannon Brown has provided a consistent offensive spark playing with the reserves, so plugging him in with the starters might give them a little bit more firepower and help the team get away from those painfully slow starts.

Beasley’s position in the rotation isn’t likely to be tinkered with, given the fact that he’s been placed in a primary scoring role and plays somewhat heavy minutes with a combination of personnel. It’s probably best to continue to work with him and hope he finds a measure of consistency rather than dropping him to the second unit.

But at this point in the young season, with winnable games having become losses and the team sitting at 4-7 in the standings, Gentry will have to consider all of his options.

PBT Extra: How big a threat are Pelicans to Warriors?

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Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and the New Orleans Pelicans were the surprise of the first round of the NBA playoffs. We knew they were good, but they looked dominant on both ends sweeping the three-seed Portland Trail Blazers right out of the postseason (and into a somber period of reflection).

New Orleans looked like the best team in the West in the first round and now they take all that momentum to Golden State where… let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In this PBT Extra I discuss how the Pelicans have found an identity, but the matchups against Warriors are dramatically more challenging than what they saw in Portland. And that’s before Stephen Curry returns to the fold.

The Pelicans are a great story, but the pecking order in the West is real for good reason.

Nuggets’ Mason Plumlee undergoes surgery to fix core-muscle injury

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DENVER — Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee underwent surgery to fix a core-muscle injury.

The team said Plumlee had the procedure performed Thursday morning by Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia.

Plumlee is expected to return to basketball activities this summer and be ready for training camp in the fall. He averaged 7.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists for a Nuggets team that narrowly missed out on the postseason.

The 28-year-old Plumlee was acquired by Denver as part of a deal in February 2017 that sent center Jusuf Nurkic to Portland. Plumlee signed a three-year, $41 million deal with the Nuggets last September.

 

PBT Extra: Spurs many off-season questions start with Kawhi Leonard

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San Antonio has a lot of roster questions heading into this summer. When Danny Green opts out at $10 million a year, how much do they offer to bring back a key wing defender? What about Tony Parker, an unrestricted free agent? Will Manu Ginobili come back at age 78 41 for another season?

But at the top of the list: Can the Spurs relationship with Kawhi Leonard be repaired?

If so, do they trust his health enough to offer him the $219 million designated veteran max extension?

If not, do they test the trade market (likely we will know the answer to that around the draft, well before July 1)?

I get into all of it in this latest PBT Extra.

NBA makes it official: LeBron did goaltend on Oladipo’s final shot

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Ultimately, this is moot. Nothing changes — not the critical last Pacers possession, not the fact LeBron James drained a three afterwards (and may well have anyway). All it provides is a little validation for frustrated Pacers fans and players.

Yes, LeBron did goaltend on Victor Oladipo‘s shot with 5.1 seconds remaining in what was then a tie game between the Pacers and Cavaliers. The NBA confirmed it in its Last Two Minute Report on Game 5 in that series. From the report.

“(Above the rim view) shows that James (CLE) blocks Oladipo’s (IND) shot attempt after it makes contact with the backboard.”

Oladipo called it goaltending. However, the officials didn’t call goaltending on the play, therefore it was not reviewable. Often on bang-bang plays like this one an official will call goaltending just to give themselves the chance to review it, but this crew did not (and that is a tough call to make accurately in real time).

From there, LeBron went on to hit the dramatic game-winning three that gave Cleveland the win and a 3-2 series lead.

The report also concluded that it was Thaddeus Young who knocked the ball out of bounds on the baseline with 27.6 seconds left, knocking the ball out of LeBron’s hands. The ball bounced on the line — and was therefore out, but the official didn’t call it — then bounced back up, hit LeBron on the arm and went clearly out of bounds. The referee called the second bounce after it hit LeBron. From the report:

“(Video) shows that Young (IND) deflects the ball away from James (CLE) and it lands out of bounds, but there is no whistle. The ball then bounces and hits James’ arm and lands out of bounds again, which is called. Possession of the ball is incorrectly awarded to the Pacers.”

One other note to Pacers fans: The goaltending call is not why Indiana lost. Oladipo shot 2-of-15 on the night. Darren Collison had a very an off night, was not aggressive, and was 1-of-5 shooting. There are a myriad of plays and decisions that go into a game, one blown call is not why the Pacers lost.

The question is can they regroup at home, get more secondary playmaking and buckets from someone other Oladipo, and can their defense force a Game 7? It can, but they have to put the end of Game 5 behind them first.